OK, I've just spent a good few hours gaming on the Alienware m9750 system and to say that I'm impressed by the performance of this notebook is a massive understatement. If you want portable gaming, this is the system for you.
OK, a few specs. The Alienware m9750 is powered by an Intel T7600 CPU delivering 2.33GHz, which is backed up by 2GB of DDR2 RAM. But it gets better than that, a lot better. The hard drive is a 64GB solid state drive, which not only means excellent performance, but also low power consumption. The graphics system is equally impressive - the 17” Wide Screen WUXGA 1920 x 1200 Clearview screen is being fed by dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX GDDR3 cards. This system scores a 4.7 on the Windows Experience Index (a score let down by the fact that the system only has 2GB of RAM). The CPU scores a 5.2, the graphics a whopping 5.9, the gaming graphics a very robust 5.8 and the hard drive scores a 5.4. To get this kind of performance from a desktop you'd have to spend some serious cash and choose parts wisely. To get this performance from a notebook is simply staggering.
And the spec really does translate into pure raw performance. This machine just chews through everything I've thrown at it so far. For example, I loaded both Doom 3 and Quake 4 onto the system and stared playing Doom 3 and thought that the performance was simply breathtaking. Then, when I exited the game I realized that in the background I had a remote desktop session and three Internet Explorer windows open. And Doom wasn't "just barely" running, this notebook was running the game at 1024 x 768 at high detail with no problem whatsoever. There was no feeling that the system was struggling at all. Later I'm going to experiment to see just how high I can push the graphics quality on these games. I'll also put together some basic benchmarks.
The m9750 is a really nice notebook to use. The glossy Clearview screen is an absolute joy (I normally don't like glossy screens but this one is a beauty) and the colors are bright, vivid and accurate. Whites are clear and blacks are deep and rich. Perfect just isn't a good enough word to describe this screen. I just love it.
I'm also impressed by other aspects of the rig. They keyboard is nice and positive and thoughtfully organized, while the touchpad is accurate and intuitive.
Also, for a notebook, the sound system on the Alienware is far better than I had expected. Tinny sounds with little or no base are the norm on notebooks, but the m9750 doesn't fail to impress and has one of the best sound systems that I've come across on a notebook, in fact the only system that I've used that comes close to it is Apple's MacBook. The quality if the sound system plays a huge part in generating the appropriate atmosphere when gaming, and the speakers on the m9750 really deliver the goods.
The system is also impeccably set up. Everything works and I've not had a single problem with the system yet. It's pretty obvious that the folks at Alienware have put in a lot of time and effort making sure that all the hardware, software and drivers all play together nicely.
I'm also impressed with the thought that Alienware have put into the cooling system on this notebook. Despite having a powerful CPU and a dual graphics cards, it's not like having a pile of thermite going off on your lap. Yes, it's warm, but you don't get the feel that the system is going to burn its way through your lap and onto the floor. Most of the heat it directed out the back of the system by fans which so far have been quietly unobtrusive. Given the number of hours I'm planning to put in on this system I'm not risk heat damage to my vitals and so I'm running the m9750 on a notebook cooler (one which is far too small of the system, but does the trick). If you're going to be putting in long gaming sessions you might want to invest in a cooler too.
I also like the styling. The deep black construction combined with the alien ribbing on the lid (which is very H. R. Giger) has really grown on me. I even like the light-up alien head logo on the lid. Not only is the construction stylish (which you'll either like it or you won't) but it seems very durable too.
I know that I'm probably not supposed to say this, but I'm already starting to dread the day that the Alienware has to go back. It's very nice to be able to play games anywhere in the house without having to be tied to a desktop - having a really powerful notebook is a very liberating feeling. Unless something changes I can see myself buying one real soon ...